If you are in danger of being hurt by a family member or someone you are or have been dating, you can ask the family court for a temporary restraining order (TRO). A temporary restraining order is a paper from the court that tells someone to stop hurting, threatening, or stalking you.
If you are in danger right now, call 9-1-1. You can also contact a domestic violence program in Connecticut by calling the 24-hour statewide hotline at 888-774-2900. They can help you with emergency shelter, information, and more.
A protective order is ordered by a judge in criminal court, usually after someone has been arrested.
If someone (in your family or not) has been arrested for hurting, threatening, or stalking you, the criminal court may give you a protective order to keep that person away from you. But a protective order only lasts until the criminal case ends, and it may not protect other people in your family.
A temporary restraining order is ordered by a judge in family court, and it applies only to certain people, as explained below.
You can ask the family court for a temporary restraining order whether you have a criminal protective order or not. A temporary restraining order can last longer, and it can also protect other members of your family.
This booklet will tell you how to ask the family court for a temporary restraining order. There are other ways to protect yourself from family violence. To learn more, talk to a domestic violence agency or a lawyer.
If the person harming you is not a member of your family or household, you should contact the police.
A restraining order can order that person to not hurt you, threaten to hurt you, or stalk you. This includes hitting, pushing, kicking, biting, scratching, or anything else that hurts you.
In certain situations, you can also ask the court to order that you temporarily have specific belongings or documents, such as
You can also ask the court to order that the other person
These specific orders, called Orders of Maintenance, expire 120 days from when they are issued or when a judge enters new orders to replace them.
You can apply for Orders of Maintenance in these situations:
For more information, you can get help at a Court Service Center, located in most courthouses.
You will need to fill out the following forms. You can get them at any courthouse or online at www.jud.ct.gov/webform.
If you have children under 18 and you will be asking the court to have them live with you, you should also fill out an Affidavit Concerning Children (JD-FM-164).
The court may give you temporary custody of the children until the restraining order expires. If you want permanentcustodyorders, you will need to start a separatecustody case in Family Court. Ask the clerk or a lawyer how to do this.
If the court does not give you temporary custodyin the restraining order, you can start a separate custody case. Ask a lawyer how to do this.
You must tell the truth on your forms. Keep in mind that the other person will get a copy of your forms (except for your contact information). Be sure to fill out the Request for Nondisclosure of Location Information (JD-FM-188) so your contact information is kept private.
File your completed forms at the family court clerk’s office at the courthouse that serves the town where you live or where the other person lives.
The clerk will give your forms to a judge. The judge will decide on your restraining order by the end of the day that you submit your paperwork to the clerk. If the judge grants your restraining order, the court will set a date for a hearing. The hearing will be held within 14 days of when the judge signs the temporary restraining order (or within 7 days if the other person has a permit to carry or own a firearm or ammunition).
A temporary restraining order protects you until your court hearing. If you want the temporary order to last beyond the court hearing, you must go to court on the hearing date and tell the judge what you need and why you are afraid.
The judge may not grant a temporary restraining order, but instead order a hearing to listen to both sides. If this happens there, is no protection in place. You must go to court on the hearing date and tell the judge why you are afraid and what you need.
If the judge grants your temporary restraining order, the clerk will give you back the original papers and copies. You will need to ask a State Marshal to deliver (or serve) a copy of these papers on the other person. The marshal will serve the papers for free. There is a list of marshals online or the court clerk can give you a list.
Some courts will want you to call ahead before your hearing and mark your case “READY.” This lets the court know that you are planning to come to court on your hearing day. Ask the clerk if you will need to call ahead of time to mark the case ready. (Some courts don’t follow this procedure, so check with the clerk ahead of time.)
Some marshals will have you fill out a form with information about the other party, or you can write a letter with this information. The marshal will need to know what the person looks like, where they work, the places they visit regularly, and if they have weapons. It’s important that you give detailed information about the other person so the marshal can find them and deliver the restraining order. If you have a photograph of the other party, bring it with you and show it to the marshal.
Important: You must have the marshal serve the papers on other person at least 3 days before the hearing. If you don’t have the other person served and they don’t have notice of the hearing, the case won’t be able to proceed on the hearing date. If this happens, you can ask the court to extend the temporary restraining order for 14 days so the marshal can deliver the papers. If the judge decides to extend the temporary restraining order, the clerk will prepare papers for the marshal to try to serve the other person again.
Collect any evidence you need, such as medical records, photos, or police reports.
If you want a witness (such as a neighbor or police officer) to speak at your hearing, but you’re worried the witness may not go to the hearing, you can ask the clerk for a subpoena (pronounced sa-PEA-na). A subpoena is a court order that says the witness must go to your hearing. You will have to get a marshal to serve the subpoena. It must be served 18 hours or more before the hearing, so you should go to the clerk’s office at least 2 or 3 days before your hearing if you want to get a subpoena.
If you have questions or need help, call a domestic violence agency or talk to a lawyer.
Important! The other person has the right to go to the hearing so you may see them there.
If the other person is there:
The court may ask you and the other person to meet with a Family Relations officer first. The officer will suggest a way to make an agreement about your case instead of having a hearing. But you don’t have to accept the officer’s suggestion.
If the temporary restraining order signed by the judge orders no contact between you and the other person, you should let one of the courthouse marshals know this. They will help make sure that you can meet with Family Relations separately and without any incidents.
If you and the other person make an agreement:
The officer will put the agreement in writing and give it to the judge. Then the judge will ask you and the other person these questions:
If the other person is NOT there or you can’t come to an agreement, wait in the courtroom until the judge calls your name. You will have a hearing, and the judge will decide your case.
Try to find out why by asking the judge. If there was a mistake with how the papers were served on the other person, you may be able to fix it. If the court says you have to start over from the beginning, talk to a lawyer or a domestic violence agency.
If you need to make your order last longer, follow these steps:
If the court extends your order, ask the clerk how to get a certified copy of the new order. If the defendant disobeys the order, you will need a certified copy to show the police.